Psst, Criminals: Your Facebook & Twitter Posts Could Get You Arrested

Here's yet another lesson in the dangers of obsessively posting updates about your life via social media: After binding, gagging, beating and eventually robbing an elderly woman in Charleston, West Virginia last year, two teenage boys took photos of the stolen loot, to brag about it online. The pictures they uploaded to Twitter later showed up as evidence.

One of the photos shows Peck, 18, reflected in a mirror. In one hand he holds his cellphone. In the other, he holds a pistol, pointed downward and sideways toward the camera. The weapon is the same one he pointed at his 79-year-old victim, as he demanded keys to her safe. Another photo shows Gibson, 19, flashing gang signs. Yet another shows a collection of weapons and pills the pair stole from the woman's house. The teens tagged the series of shots "Got em," — apparently unfazed by the fact that they were creating evidence of their own crime.

The crimes Shawn Peck and Shane Gibson committed were awful, of course, but to brag about it through photos is just plain stupid. Anyone who has ever seen a heist movie knows that a crook must aways cover up his tracks! Tweeting photos of yourself holding the just-stolen items in your hands is just asking to get caught. As E.M. Peterson, a local Police Officer on the case, spoke of their sloppy social networking, "These kids handed me this case."

Social media sites like Facebook are becoming harder and harder to ignore in the court room. Not only are they extremely useful for gathering evidence during the investigation period, but apparently law enforcement officials now search "the often-public forums almost as soon as a case crosses their desks." These sites may not be used only for the defendant on a court case — potential jurors may screened through their social networks, too:

The prosecutor is also considering using Facebook to help select juries. For example, if 100 people were selected in a jury pool for a particular case, Plants would assign a person to search the candidates' Facebook pages for information that would disqualify them for duty. Obviously, he said, the potential juror would have to set his or her profile to be publicly viewed.

"I have a general list of information about them — where they work, if they're married, will they pay taxes," Plants said. "Think about how much more information there is on Facebook."

Arrests Using Facebook, Twitter, Cellphone Pictures On The Rise [The Charleston Gazette]